Kit Reviews Meng Models Renault FT-17 WW1 Tank

smeg-head

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Meng Models (TS011) Renault FT-17 WW1 French Tank.
Kit review by Smeghead.
270412-11890-21-pristine.jpg

The FT-17 was developed by the French during WW1. It's revolutionary configuration - crew compartment at the front, separate engine compartment at the rear; drive sprocket at the back, idler wheel at the front; rotating turret at the front centre, full view commander compartment - has become the standard tank layout. The octagonal riveted turret replaced the conical cast turret in the early stages of mass production, it being easier to produce than the original. What's more, the early turret was too small for any guns to be mounted in it. The FT-17 could accommodate a crew of two - Driver and Commander/Gunner. It was armed with an 8mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun or a 37mm Puleaux SA18 gun. Over 4100 FT17s were built in France and they were widely used by many countries around the World. (27 Confirmed). In the strict sense, the FT-17 was the first real tank, certainly the first to have a rotating turret and definitely the model from which all subsequent tanks were made.

Variants:
Char canon: an FT with a 37 mm Puteaux SA18 short-barreled gun – about 3/5 of tanks ordered, about 1/3 of tanks actually produced.

Char mitrailleuse: an FT with an 8 mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun – about 2/5 of tanks ordered, about 3/5 of tanks produced

FT 75 BS: a self propelled gun with a short barreled Blockhaus Schneider 75mm gun– 40 were produced.

Char signal or TSF: a command tank with a radio. "TSF" stands for télégraphie sans fil ("wireless"). No armament, three-men crew, 300 ordered,100 produced.

FT désarmé : French char canon whose 37mm gun has been removed in the 1930s to arm modern tanks, and used for various purposes.

Pont Bourguignon sur char FT: FT without turret carrying a light bridge.

FT-Ko: 13 modified units imported by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1919.

M1917 – US-built copy. 950 built, 374 of which were gun tanks and fifty of which were radio tanks. During World War II the Canadian Army purchased 236 redundant M1917s for training purposes.

Russkiy Reno: the "Russian Renault", the first Soviet tank, produced at Krasnoye Sormovo. A close copy. 17 units were produced. Also known as "Tank M" or "KS tank".

Renault FT CWS: the Renault FT CWS or Zelazny ("mild steel") tanks were built in Poland for use as training vehicles only (Polish combat tanks were French manufactured).

Renault M26/27: a development of the FT with a different suspension and Kégresse rubber tracks; a number were used in Yugoslavia and five in Poland.

Contents
10 plastic sprues, moulded in flesh coloured plastic; 1 instruction booklet in booklet form
1 bag with individual track links, moulded in black plastic; 1 small decal sheet.
1 fret of photo etched parts. Metal parts for suspension springs and bars
22.jpg
19 (1).jpg
24.jpg
28.jpg
29.jpg

Review
This kit is the second variant of the FT-17 tank released by MENG Model, the first was with the cast turret (TS-005) It comes in a relatively small box, full of content, with very nice box art and two color schemes on the sides. The parts are molded in tan plastic, with clean cast and no visible flash. There are the usual ejector pin and sink marks present. There are some very fine parts and attention will be needed when cutting from the sprues.
Assembly starts with the lower hull, consisted of multiple parts with some interior for the driver compartment. There is lot of detail on the floor and sides such as rivets, driver's levers and seat, fire extinguisher etc. Roof armor and hull top consist of several panels with nice details. Once the hull is completed, next assembly is of the running gear. Looking at the instruction, assembly is a bit complex, with many parts, so careful study of the construction steps is needed and attention to the many delicate parts. This is the one area I found the instructions to be ambiguous and had to make several attempts to get right. There are metal parts for the suspension springs and bars/axis, although the springs seem a bit undersized. Fitting the springs is easy enough but the small round bars are a pain. I found it best to assemble them with thin plastic rod and then pushed the metal rods through, causing the plastic rods to eject.
After the running gear, next comes the un-ditching tail and tracks, the tail is nicely detailed also but there are some tiny, fiddly bits. Tracks are individual links, of the no-glue type, careful assembly is needed, not to break the attaching joints of the tracks.Next step will be attaching the driver hatches and engine deck, nothing complicated here, they can be left opened or closed. After that the weapon assembly is a choice of two steps variants of the armament either the 37mm cannon or the 8mm MG.
Vehicle completion is finished with the turret assembly; the turret consists of several riveted panels, again with nice detail, hatches can be left opened. The Hotchkiss MG can be assembled separately on the provided mount. Also worth noting is the inclusion of a small diorama base, consisting of several parts, sandbags, wooden planks etc. Ok for the beginner!
Only two colour camouflage schemes with paint numbers for Vallejo paints. The finishing options are; An American Unit in France 1918 and a Chinese Defence Force Tank 1929

Conclusion
Overall, this is a great model of the FT-17. Moulding is very well done with very fine detail on the surface of the parts. Some minor drawbacks are the omission of the full interior of the previous kit and the tiny suspension springs. Nevertheless it is half the price when compared with the cast turret version. Usual moan about no figures and insufficient decals! It was a French Tank - why no French decals?
Overall, I'd give it a three out of five - spoilt by lack of interior parts and decals

meng.jpg

I used the Meng Models FT-17 Crew & Orderly set (35005) with a nice Peugeot 750 Twin Cycle 1917 as I found they had exactly the poses I wanted. I especially liked the choice of headgear, Beret, Kepi, Adrian Helmet and Motorcyclist's helmet.

1009894-15887-38-pristine.jpg

The 8mm Hotchkiss Mle 1914 barrel was replaced by the Aber brass barrel set (35 L-195).

32.jpg

I ditched the kit decals and used some supplied by New Penguin Decals of Russia - 35033 France WW1 Renault FT Tank (1) Rivetted Turret, Western Front 1918.

Smeggers
 
As a Kid we went on vacation in New England region and a stop at Rhinebeck NY was a fond memory. The Aerodrome put on a great show, literally roaring past i dogfights only a hundred or so feet above the crowd, and there was a US M1917 tank that my dad could not keep me off of. Mr Palen showed me also how the stick and rudder pedals worked on a Fokker DVII, but that tank remained as something I wanted to crew (likely why I went to the Army later)
 
Meng Models (TS011) Renault FT-17 WW1 French Tank.
Kit review by Smeghead.
View attachment 382408
The FT-17 was developed by the French during WW1. It's revolutionary configuration - crew compartment at the front, separate engine compartment at the rear; drive sprocket at the back, idler wheel at the front; rotating turret at the front centre, full view commander compartment - has become the standard tank layout. The octagonal riveted turret replaced the conical cast turret in the early stages of mass production, it being easier to produce than the original. What's more, the early turret was too small to any guns to be mounted in it. The FT-17 could accommodate a crew of two - Driver and Commander/Gunner. It was armed with an 8mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun or a 37mm Puleaux SA18 gun. Over 4100 FT17s were built in France and they were widely used by many countries around the World. (27 Confirmed). In the strict sense, the FT-17 was the first real tank, certainly the first to have a rotating turret and definitely the model from which all subsequent tanks were made.

Variants:
Char canon: an FT with a 37 mm Puteaux SA18 short-barreled gun – about 3/5 of tanks ordered, about 1/3 of tanks actually produced.

Char mitrailleuse: an FT with an 8 mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun – about 2/5 of tanks ordered, about 3/5 of tanks produced

FT 75 BS: a self propelled gun with a short barreled Blockhaus Schneider 75mm gun– 40 were produced.

Char signal or TSF: a command tank with a radio. "TSF" stands for télégraphie sans fil ("wireless"). No armament, three-men crew, 300 ordered,100 produced.

FT désarmé : French char canon whose 37mm gun has been removed in the 1930s to arm modern tanks, and used for various purposes.

Pont Bourguignon sur char FT: FT without turret carrying a light bridge.

FT-Ko: 13 modified units imported by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1919.

M1917 – US-built copy. 950 built, 374 of which were gun tanks and fifty of which were radio tanks. During World War II the Canadian Army purchased 236 redundant M1917s for training purposes.

Russkiy Reno: the "Russian Renault", the first Soviet tank, produced at Krasnoye Sormovo. A close copy. 17 units were produced. Also known as "Tank M" or "KS tank".

Renault FT CWS: the Renault FT CWS or Zelazny ("mild steel") tanks were built in Poland for use as training vehicles only (Polish combat tanks were French manufactured).

Renault M26/27: a development of the FT with a different suspension and Kégresse rubber tracks; a number were used in Yugoslavia and five in Poland.

Contents
10 plastic sprues, moulded in flesh coloured plastic; 1 instruction booklet in booklet form
1 bag with individual track links, moulded in black plastic; 1 small decal sheet.
1 fret of photo etched parts. Metal parts for suspension springs and bars
View attachment 382409View attachment 382410View attachment 382411View attachment 382412View attachment 382414
Review
This kit is the second variant of the FT-17 tank released by MENG Model, the first was with the cast turret (TS-005) It comes in a relatively small box, full of content, with very nice box art and two color schemes on the sides. The parts are molded in tan plastic, with clean cast and no visible flash. There are the usual ejector pin and sink marks present. There are some very fine parts and attention will be needed when cutting from the sprues.
Assembly starts with the lower hull, consisted of multiple parts with some interior for the driver compartment. There is lot of detail on the floor and sides such as rivets, driver's levers and seat, fire extinguisher etc. Roof armor and hull top consist of several panels with nice details. Once the hull is completed, next assembly is of the running gear. Looking at the instruction, assembly is a bit complex, with many parts, so careful study of the construction steps is needed and attention to the many delicate parts. This is the one area I found the instructions to be ambiguous and had to make several attempts to get right. There are metal parts for the suspension springs and bars/axis, although the springs seem a bit undersized. Fitting the springs is easy enough but the small round bars are a pain. I found it best to assemble them with thin plastic rod and then pushed the metal rods through, causing the plastic rods to eject.
After the running gear, next comes the un-ditching tail and tracks, the tail is nicely detailed also but there are some tiny, fiddly bits. Tracks are individual links, of the no-glue type, careful assembly is needed, not to break the attaching joints of the tracks.Next step will be attaching the driver hatches and engine deck, nothing complicated here, they can be left opened or closed. After that the weapon assembly is a choice of two steps variants of the armament either the 37mm cannon or the 8mm MG.
Vehicle completion is finished with the turret assembly; the turret consists of several riveted panels, again with nice detail, hatches can be left opened. The Hotchkiss MG can be assembled separately on the provided mount. Also worth noting is the inclusion of a small diorama base, consisting of several parts, sandbags, wooden planks etc. Ok for the beginner!
Only two colour camouflage schemes with paint numbers for Vallejo paints. The finishing options are; An American Unit in France 1918 and a Chinese Defence Force Tank 1929

Conclusion
Overall, this is a great model of the FT-17. Moulding is very well done with very fine detail on the surface of the parts. Some minor drawbacks are the omission of the full interior of the previous kit and the tiny suspension springs. Nevertheless it is half the price when compared with the cast turret version. Usual moan about no figures and insufficient decals! It was a French Tank - why no French decals?
Overall, I'd give it a three out of five - spoilt by lack of interior parts and decals

View attachment 382415
I used the Meng Models FT-17 Crew & Orderly set (35005) with a nice Peugeot 750 Twin Cycle 1917 as I found they had exactly the poses I wanted. I especially liked the choice of headgear, Beret, Kepi, Adrian Helmet and Motorcyclist's helmet.

View attachment 382420
The 8mm Hotchkiss Mle 1914 barrel was replaced by the Aber brass barrel set (35 L-195).

View attachment 382416
I ditched the kit decals and used some supplied by New Penguin Decals of Russia - 35033 France WW1 Renault FT Tank (1) Rivetted Turret, Western Front 1918.
no white flag in the kit ?
 

smeg-head

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Sadurian

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Book Reviewer
I was given the opportunity to crawl inside an FT-17 at Bovington. I declined as I doubt that I would have been able to get out again without calling for the mobile crane. The damned things are smaller in real life even than they look in photos.

A piece of tenuously related trivia. The reason that the French used 37mm when they created their famous Puteaux infantry gun, and indeed why 37mm was the calibre of so many early AT guns, was down to humanitarian legislation. The 1868 St. Petersburg Convention ruled a minimum weight for explosive shells to prevent explosive small-arms bullets being developed. Using the minimum legal weight for ultra-light artillery pieces, therefore, led to 37mm being the optimum calibre of shell at that time.

Back on track, the old 1/76 Matchbox FT-17 kit (the one with the Char B) was always one of my favourites and I built one only last year painted up as a brave Vichy French defender of Morocco. Quick and easy to put together and just as easy to paint. A bit like the real thing, really.

I'm now looking to buy a 1/48 or 28mm version to use in my RPGs (role-playing games, I'm not firing at models with rocket-propelled grenades).
 

Sadurian

LE
Book Reviewer
Not so useful as a painting or building guide, but great if you are interested in the history of the FT-17 development, I would recommend Alaric Searle (ed.), Genesis, Employment, Aftermath: First World War Tanks and the New Warfare, 1900-1945 (Helion, 2015). Tim Gale has a chapter, ' "A Charming Toy": The Surprisingly Long Life of the Renault Light Tank, 1917-1940'.

I actually reviewed the book for this website when it came out, and not just because Alaric was my PhD supervisor...
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
I tell you what I would like to be able to get hold of but I've never seen one is a replica of the French tankies' leather jacket.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I tell you what I would like to be able to get hold of but I've never seen one is a replica of the French tankies' leather jacket.
Talk to Aero Leather they'd be able to knock one up for you, also History Bunker have a Uboat Jacket that is similar but can be modified.
 
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Talk to Aero leather they'd be able to knock one up for you, also History Bunker have a Uboat Jacket that is similar but can be modified fied
Top suggestion there Rampant - I'm hoping to drop 'round to History Bunker sometime as I noticed they're quite handy and versatile with MTM niche designs and working from defunct patterns.

ETA @cold Collation The Romain Hugault emporium 'T-bird' in Paris do some good stuff too but it's mostly Eastman Leather type prices.
 
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rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Top suggestion there Rampant - I'm hoping to drop 'round to History Bunker sometime as I noticed they're quite handy and versatile with MTM niche designs and working from defunct patterns.

ETA @cold Collation The Romain Hugault emporium 'T-bird' in Paris do some good stuff too but it's mostly Eastman Leather type prices.

They do a bespoke service now so, getting an item modded could be fairly easy to do.

Tailor made/Bespoke clothing

It was this jacket that sort of fits the pics of the French M20/M35 Tank Jacket, get rid of the breast pocket and change the collar and there you have it:

uboatcrewjacketbrown500-875x1000.jpg


U-Boat crew leather jacket - German Navy leather - vintage leather jacket

M35 for comparison

French M35 Jacket.jpg



Edited to add, this example of an M20 has a breast pocket, so just a collar mod, and a tweek to the cuff straps

French Tank Corps Uniform » Dunkirk 1940 - The Before, The Reality, The Aftermath

And at Aero their Cheyenne and 1920s Work Coats would be a good basis for modification too

Classic "Cheyenne" style leather jacket - Aero Leathers, Scotland, UK

Work Coat
 
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They do a bespoke service now so, getting an item modded could be fairly easy to do.

Tailor made/Bespoke clothing

It was this jacket that sort of fits the pics of the French M20/M35 Tank Jacket, get rid of the breast pocket and change the collar and there you have it:

View attachment 382525

U-Boat crew leather jacket - German Navy leather - vintage leather jacket

M35 for comparison

View attachment 382526


Edited to add, this example of an M20 has a breast pocket, so just a collar mod, and a tweek to the cuff straps

French Tank Corps Uniform » Dunkirk 1940 - The Before, The Reality, The Aftermath

And at Aero their Cheyenne and 1920s Work Coats would be a good basis for modification too

Classic "Cheyenne" style leather jacket - Aero Leathers, Scotland, UK

Work Coat
You got a y reg Austin ?

 

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